Ear pain is something that can happen occasionally for various reasons. You might have a pain that quickly goes away, but you can also feel more persistent pain or pain that keeps coming back.
If you have ear pain, one possibility is that it’s being caused by allergies. Allergies can affect the eyes, ears, nose, throat, and sinuses in different ways, so they could be behind your ear pain.
Can Allergies Cause Ear Pain?
It might not be what you immediately think of if your ears hurt, but allergies can cause ear pain. The nose, throat, and sinuses are all connected to the ears, which means that when they are affected by allergies, your ears can be too.
Allergens cause your body to produce an antibody called Immunoglobulin E, which in turn tells cells to release histamine. Histamine increases mucus production and causes inflammation, which can lead to pain in your ears due to inflammation in the eustachian tubes, fluid building up in the middle ear, and bacteria in this fluid.
How can you tell if your ear pain is caused by allergies? One good sign is if you’re experiencing other symptoms of allergies. If your nose or sinuses feel blocked up, your eyes or throat are itchy or you’re sneezing, it could be because of an allergic reaction.
You might already be aware that you have hay fever or other allergies and you recognize the symptoms. Or it could be a new experience for you, and you’re not sure what you’re having an allergic reaction to. If you need help with managing your allergies, it’s best to speak to a doctor about it.
Types of Ear Pain Caused By Allergies
Two main types of ear pain caused by allergies are inflammation and ear infections. One can lead to the other, as inflammation may cause a buildup of fluid, which then increases the risk of an ear infection.
Allergies can cause the eustachian tubes to become inflamed. The eustachian tubes connect the ears to the throat and allow fluid to drain, which equalizes pressure between your ears and the environment.
Eustachian tube dysfunction is when the ears feel full, and there may be a feeling of pressure, muffled hearing, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and ear pain. Fluid can become trapped in the ears because inflammation of the narrow eustachian tubes prevents it from draining properly.
Ear infections can also be a consequence of allergies. If fluid builds up in the middle ear, the risk of bacteria increases. This makes an ear infection more likely, which can be painful and irritating.
Some of the symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Discharge from the ear
- Muffled hearing
- Problems with balance
How to Treat Ear Pain Caused by Allergies
To treat ear pain caused by allergies, it might be important to address two different things. Firstly, there are the allergies themselves, which may be causing other problems too. Secondly, there are ear problems caused by allergies, which could include pain, inflammation, and infection.
The usual treatment to help manage allergies is antihistamine medications, which prevent the chemical histamine from overproducing. Avoiding known allergens is also a good idea if you want to prevent allergies.
To manage ear pain caused by allergies, you can do a few things. Firstly, resting in an upright position can help to reduce pressure and allow fluid to drain. A cold pack on your outer ear for a few minutes can help to reduce inflammation, and over-the-counter pain relievers can also help to both treat pain and inflammation. Chewing gum can also help, encouraging air to pass through the ears to relieve pain and pressure.
If you have an ear infection, it might need to be treated with antibiotics. Some ear infections can clear up without the use of antibiotics, but others will need the right treatment. Doctors will sometimes suggest waiting a couple of days to see if the infection starts to get better on its own.
If it doesn’t, they can prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection. If you have symptoms of an ear infection that don’t get better or become worse, especially if you have a high fever, make sure you get the right medical attention.
When to See a Doctor
You won’t always need to see a doctor about ear pain caused by allergies. Home remedies can sometimes help you to feel better, or the pain might pass on its own. However, if your allergies are causing you to feel frequent or persistent pain in your ear, it’s important to make sure you get the right treatment.
You should see a doctor if you have symptoms of an ear infection or if pain caused by your allergies is affecting your life. Seeing a doctor can also help you to ensure you are managing your allergies well. Allergies can cause a range of symptoms but you can get them under control with the right treatment. Managing your allergies can help you prevent ear pain in the future.
Get Help from an Online Doctor
Seeing a doctor in person can take up a lot of your time. It’s hard to fit an appointment in with your other commitments, and you might have other reasons for not wanting to travel to a doctor’s office too.
An online doctor makes it much more convenient to get medical advice when you need it. If you’re sniffling and feeling miserable from allergies, it’s definitely helpful to be able to speak to someone virtually instead of having to go to their office!
Allergies can cause pain in your ears, especially due to inflammation and infection. If you think your ear pain is being caused by allergies, there are some things you can do to treat it at home.
However, getting help from a doctor can help you to ensure you know what the problem is and know your options for treating it too. DrHouse can help you speak to a doctor quickly so you don’t have to wait.
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- JORDAN RE. Allergy of Middle and Inner Ear. AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1960;71(3):558–561. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1001/archotol.1960.03770030200030
- Asiri, S., Hasham, A., Anazy, F., Zakzouk, S., & Banjar, A. (1999). Tympanosclerosis: Review of literature and incidence among patients with middle-ear infection. The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 113(12), 1076-1080. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022215100157937
- Antibiotics use: Ear infections. CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/ear-infection.html